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16th March '2009
Jammu Nostalgia-II
(Reminiscing wonderful good old days)
Schools and Teachers

My schooling has been in a number of schools both in Kashmir and Jammu. Starting from the Islamic Middle School I landed in for three years in Tyndale Biscoe School but then transferred to Model School in Magermal Bagh. However, for the six months of winter I went through a number of Schools in Jammu city. The first was the Gass Mandi Primary School run by Master Karamchand. He was the Head Master of the School. I had some wonderful time in this school. I have two distinct memories of the small school located near what was then called the Urdu Bazar. We used to get some days off in winter and during this break we would get some books from school for reading. These were mostly story books. I chose Ramayan for children. It was a small book in Urdu with pictures which described the story of Ram. I read it during my winter holidays and thoroughly enjoyed it. It described in detail the exile of Ram and his fight with Ravan. The other incident connected with the school related to Parija Parishad agitation. I remember those days there were some demonstrations and one day at noon time we heard lot of explosions when we were in our class. Suddenly there was lot of dense smoke and the whole school was filled with tear smoke. All of us were crying with tears streaming down without control. The smell was very pungent. Our teachers asked us to wet our handkerchiefs in a tub of water which was put in the centre of the school and wipe our eyes with this cold water. It was a painful experience for the children and we could go to our homes only in the evening when the trouble was over.

After completing the primary education, I shifted to Hari Singh High School. The school is situated on a hill side in terraces at the end of the road leading to Eidgah. I have many fond memories of this school. It was here that I appeared for the Middle School examination which was those conducted by the board. I got second position. There were very hard working and intelligent teachers. I remember some teachers and my fellow students vividly even though the minute details have faded from my memory. There was a very simple but intelligent teacher who used to teach us mathematics. He was Master Devi Lal. I used to go to his home for private tuition also. His method of teaching the solution of mathematical problems was superb. Once we learnt the basics, we would be able to solve all problems easily. He would not allow us to remember things by rote but would insist on learning the methodology of solving problems. One thing I liked about the school teachers as well as students was their enterprising spirit and the dignity of labour. There was a Sardar Ji whose name I have forgotten, who used to teach us Urdu. One day when I had gone to see Bahu Mela, I was surprised to see my teacher selling oranges in the garden. I was impressed by his initiative and convictions. To supplement his income, he did not mind doing some manual work even though he was highly educated. Similarly, I used to go to watch movies in the nearby Uttam Talkie (now KC Residency Hotel). One evening I saw one of my class mates selling roasted peanuts. Again it was to supplement family income and pay for the school expenses. Another friend who was son of a shopkeeper selling sweets used to sit on the shop in his spare time. We hardly see such enterprising people these days and people are going more and more for white collar jobs. I also remember a Muslim teacher who used to teach us general knowledge. He was a tough guy. I remember one incident very distinctly. While he was writing something on the black-board, a wasp entered the class room. The teacher without waiting for even a second smashed it with a swat. I asked him why he killed it as it had done no harm to him. He replied, a tyrant should be killed before he even has a chance to commit any tyrannical act! What an extreme view!

I did not attend any school for matriculation examination in Jammu. I appeared through Sri Partap High School in Srinagar but sat for my exams in Jammu. Those days the Schools were very strict for the results and would not allow migration. One could have a change of centre for the University Exams. There was only one combined University of Jammu & Kashmir. Similar was the case with my Intermediate (Faculty of Science) exam for which I appeared through Sri Paratap College. My centre was at GGM Science College, Jammu. I secured second position in the entire University. However, I did spend six months in Jammu and was tutored by the excellent teachers of Jammu who were instrumental in enabling me to secure so high marks. One more teacher I distinctly remember was Babu Ram. He was a very poor man who was working as a teacher in Jammu Central Jail. He used to teach the prisoners. He also used to take some private tuition. He was giving tuition to my sister and younger brother. He tried his best to teach me Gurumukhi and Hindi but in spite of his best efforts I could not learn these languages! I wish I had been more considerate to Babu Ram who is now no more!

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